How to choose a memorable brand name (+ what to avoid)

“Great names have the potential to generate smiles and word-of-mouth buzz.” Unknown

While your sign is an important visual display, the name of your business or product is the most essential element of your brand identity. And yet, a business name is often given the least attention. Yet, when consumers think about a brand, their first thought is the brand name which is uttered many times a day.

Large businesses with seemingly unlimited budgets can, and often do, choose abstract business names that have no connection to their product or service. 

Companies such as Google, Yahoo, X, and Amazon spend millions of dollars annually to capture the attention of consumers.  Small businesses with limited marketing budgets cannot outspend their larger competitors, but they can outthink them. While major advertisers spend millions to penetrate consumers’ brains, entrepreneurs with limited marketing budgets MUST choose a name whose primary benefit is to tell customers what business they are in clearly. 

Never sacrifice clearness for cleverness.

Characteristics of a great brand name

Choosing a brand name requires careful consideration of various factors, including relevance to your industry, ease of pronunciation, memorability, and scalability. Each aspect plays a crucial role in shaping how your brand is perceived by your target audience.

  • Are Memorable

Creating a memorable brand name is essential for ensuring that your target audience remembers your business. Think of brands like Google or Nike – their names stick in your mind effortlessly. Memorable names often evoke positive emotions or associations, making them more likely to be recalled. Utilizing unique sounds, rhythms, or wordplay can contribute to memorability.

  • Are Distinctive

Distinctiveness is key to standing out in a crowded marketplace. A distinctive brand name sets your business apart from competitors and helps you carve out a unique identity. Avoid generic terms or names that blend into the background. Instead, opt for something that grabs attention and leaves a lasting impression on your audience.

  • Are Easy to pronounce and spell

Simplicity is paramount when it comes to pronunciation and spelling. A brand name that is easy to say and spell reduces friction for customers, making it easier for them to find and remember your business. Complex or convoluted names can lead to confusion and hinder brand recognition. Keep it simple yet impactful.

  • Are Pleasing to say

The phonetics of a brand name plays a crucial role in its appeal. Names that roll off the tongue smoothly are more pleasing to say and hear, enhancing their overall likability. Consider the rhythm, cadence, and tone of your brand name to ensure it has a pleasant sound. This auditory aspect can contribute significantly to brand recall and recognition.

  • Are Short (maximum of eleven letters and four syllables)

Short and sweet reigns supreme in the realm of brand names. Keeping your name concise – ideally with fewer than eleven letters and four syllables – makes it easier to remember and communicate. Short names are punchy, impactful, and less prone to being abbreviated or misspelled. They pack a powerful punch in a compact form.

  • Should have a story

Behind every great brand name lies a compelling story. Whether rooted in the brand’s history, mission, or values, a narrative adds depth and meaning to the name. Sharing this story with your audience fosters a sense of connection and authenticity, strengthening brand loyalty. A memorable story can transform a brand name from mere words into a symbol of identity and purpose.

  • Are Interesting, colorful, and different from the competition. 

In a sea of bland and forgettable names, strive to be interesting, colorful, and unique. Your brand name should evoke curiosity and intrigue, sparking conversations and capturing attention. Conduct thorough research to ensure that your name sets you apart from competitors and aligns with your brand’s personality and values.

  • Should be unique, sensory, musical, creative, and outstanding

While a creative brand name can help your brand stand out, it’s essential to strike a balance between creativity and descriptiveness. A name that is too obscure may confuse customers, while one that is too descriptive may limit your brand’s potential for expansion.

  • Are legally defensible 

Protecting your brand name is critical to safeguarding your intellectual property and preventing infringement. Consult with legal experts to ensure your chosen brand name is available for trademark registration and doesn’t infringe on existing trademarks.

(You should conduct a thorough internet search, a Secretary of State search, and a trademark search). 

What to avoid when choosing a brand name

  • A business name must not be expressed with letters of the alphabet, nor should it be represented using generic or heroic words (Applied, Quality, Creative, International, Reliable, Superior, etc.). 

Using your family name as a business name has more negatives than positives.

Your family name does not tell people what you do, makes it harder to scale, and could easily make your target audience confuse it with another brand. 

When starting a business, it is best to keep the family name in the family.

Effective brand name examples

The odds of long-term survival are 34% greater when a brand name evokes the benefit instead of being an abstract name. Your business name should, when possible, fuse with your #1 specialty

  • Hefty Trash Bag
  • Diehard Battery
  • Thrifty Car Rental
  • Invisible Fence
  • Ziploc Sandwich Bags
  • Lean Cuisine
  • Butterball Turkey

Final thoughts

Brand names should be a clear and overt declaration of what you offer.  The more in line your name is with your message, the more effective your marketing will be. 

Those in business who already have a name must ask themselves these questions: 

  • Does the value and equity of that current name outweigh the value of changing it to a more powerful and useful name? 
  • Does your business name directly or specifically support your #1 specialty, your one big thing?

Once you’ve decided on a name that perfectly describes your business, it’s time to bring that name to AA Sign & Awning so we can create an Impactful Business Signage design that attracts customers 24 hours a day.

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